Alert:  I’m about to badmouth a famous dead guy.

By now we all know James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is dead.  According to David Letterman this is significant because it means that now the hardest working man in show business is Regis Philbin.  I’d argue Nick Cannon, but whatever.  For black folk it’s significant for too many reasons to get into, especially since this article is not in praise of one of the greatest entertainers of our time.  You can find that kind of article anywhere.  This is concerning his five year old son, a little boy that was left out of his 73 year old father’s will. 

Now we can make the excuse that it’s just like black folk to be sloppy in handling their business and leave it at that, but that would be wrong, stereotypical, and as ignorant as it gets. (In this case sadly it’s true.   One of the most successful musicians of EVER didn’t update his will after the birth of his 7th child five years ago.  But I digress.)  If I’m not mistaken the almost 100 year old (I’m rounding) husband of Anna Nicole Smith was a billionaire and he didn’t even have a coherent plan on how to dole out his estate among his family and his then 26 year old wife, and he was as white as they come.  So look at it for what it probably is and that’s another dad failing to protect his child’s future because of his questionable feelings about his “baby mama.”

Let’s briefly examine the facts (ok some of this may be rumor and innuendo).  Tomi Raye Hynie, the mother of Mr. Brown’s child, is not well liked.    Immediately following his death she was locked out of the Brown mansion and claimed homelessness, only for us to later find out that she lived in a house around the corner.   At the funeral Rev. Al Sharpton, a good friend of the Godfather, announced her by the wrong name.  To add insult some reports are claiming that she was legally married to someone else when she “married” James Brown.  Then it came out that she and her son were both left out of the will even though Mr. Brown was of sound enough mind to have his other six children covered.  In a strange twist the body of the soul singer is not in the ground as of this posting because it was being kept at his home for some obscure reason.  (Could there have been DNA collection conducted to make sure the kid is his before they put him in the ground?  I’m just speculating.)  There have also been some serious allegations of Ms. Hynie being physically abused over the years by her cape-donning partner.   It’s clear to me that there is some kind of back story that influenced Brown’s decision to put off adding his young son to his will. 

All that to say no matter how a father may feel about his baby’s mother, he has to take care of his children – all of them.  This goes double for such a high-profile, rich, and historically significant person as James Brown.  My gut tells me that he loved Ms. Hynie, but I question, based on the evidence, if he trusted her.  I hope that the kid’s siblings do right by him and share the wealth of the estate, even if it’s by putting something away for him in a trust that he can’t touch until he’s of age.  The child at the center of this mess didn’t do anything to deserve being left without a dad or a penny to his name.